Taking Children’s Interests Seriously
Martha Albertson Fineman
Emory University School of Law
WHAT IS RIGHT FOR CHILDREN: THE COMPETING PARADIGMS OF RELIGION AND HUMAN RIGHTS, M.A. Fineman and K. Worthington, eds., Ashgate, 2009
Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 09-75
This is a chapter from What Is Right For Children: The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights, M.A. Fineman and K. Worthington Eds. (Ashgate 2009). It explores the implications of the fact that schools have become one of the battlegrounds in American culture wars and parental rights are entangled with religious freedom. Children’s independent interest in education and the obligations the state has to children as individuals are overwhelmed in discussions focused on validating parental rights over their children. Religious beliefs are often offered as justification for removing children from secular public schools, allowing parents to place them in private religious academies or home schooling situations. Any policy pertaining to the education of children should require a balancing of interests. As with many other decisions affecting children and families, the rights and responsibilities of parents and the state must be components of any consideration of what is appropriate for children. The problem is that bringing parents and the state into the discussion often diverts attention away from children. This chapter concludes that perhaps the best way to protect a child’s interests regarding education is by mandating universal public education for all children.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: children, education, private schools, public schools, childrens rights, parental rights, religionAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 2, 2009
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